Directed by Richard Fleischer, Conan the Destroyer is a movie that deserves more recognition. Full of action, adventure, humor, and best of all, wizards!!! Wizard battle galore! Never have I seen such exciting wizard battles! Not even The Lord of the Rings‘ wizard battles had me as excited. Shown with little special effects and much imagination, this film has created a world of beauty and darkness perfectly blended together to create the Hyborian Age, a fictional time period. Savage, yet glamorous.
Based on the creation from the brilliant mind of Robert E. Howard, Conan was brought to life through the best person possible: Arnold Schwarzenegger. He looked the part, and by god, he had the body of the character. However, by hiring Arnold Schwarzenegger there arose problems later on that destroyed the possibilities of any other sequels. After all, he was under a trilogy-film Conan contract but Schwarzenegger was incapable of appearing for the 1987 release of Conan the Conqueror due to the filming of Predator. Of course, after that film he grew into a famous actor and his schedule, not to mention his Governor position, prevented him from being involved in the 2002 planned release of “King Conan: Crown of Iron.” Apparently John Milius, the director from the first Conan film (Conan the Barbarian), had Lilly and Lana Wachowski (directors of The Matrix) aboard to direct the film even. What a spectacle that would’ve been! Sigh
I truly wanted to know the outcome of how Conan became King Conan. After all, it’s been talked about since the first film that Conan is to be king one day, by his own hand none the less. Feels like I’m left on a cliff hanger after watching this film, for I crave to see more but there’s no more to see with Arnold Schwarzenegger. There is however 1997’s Kull the Conqueror starring Kevin Sorbo (best known for his role as Hercules), which takes place chronologically after this film. Worth seeing by the way if you get the chance.
For comic relief measures, there is Tracey Walter as Malak, Conan’s thieving sidekick. Some of his lines literally had me laughing hysterically on the ground. He’s like “the fool” of the group, always having to convince himself that “they need him”. While there’s the fierce warrior, Zula, starring the beautiful Grace Jones, who proves that “Strong is the new Sexy.” Even some of her lines had me laughing pretty hard. But all in all, the combination of all the characters together creates hilarious dialogues.
The story revolves around a princess named Jehnna, played by Olivia D’Abo, who must undergo a quest that will help bring about the resurrection of the god, Dagoth. To protect her is her bodyguard Bombaata, starring the incredibly tall and talented, Wilt Chamberlain (standing at the height of 7’1″). He’s so tall that when Arnold is at his side, Arnold appears short. But to make it even more epic, André the Giant stars in this film as the horrid creature seen near the end of the film. What an epic cast!
Mako returns as Akiro ‘The Wizard’, who has a very interesting dress style. Conan thinks it best to fight magic with magic so he makes a detour on their quest to retrieve his faithful wizard. Without Akiro, they wouldn’t have gone far on their adventure, that’s for sure. According to Malak, it’s bad luck to kill a wizard. So Akiro uses tactful battle skills to defeat a wizard without paying such a price.
With that in mind, it makes sense to me now why Gandolf the Grey (from the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit) was always imprisoned for long periods of time, instead of being instantly killed. This superstition may have made his enemies hesitant on killing him. However, in this film, Akiro was almost cooked alive by a tribe of cannibals. So, luck is scarce for everyone in the world of the barbarians. Fair enough.
The villainous Queen Taramis, played by Sarah Douglas, has quite an array of fashion. My favorite is the dress with the raven (shown above). But I fancy all of Jehnna’s outfits the best, especially the grey dress she wears when going to retrieve the infamous horn of Dagoth. I commend the costume designer, John Bloomfield, for creating such suiting and exotic fashion. I’d also like to commend Basil Poldouris, returning for the sequel to once again create the most hypnotizing, melodic music.
One thing I found odd about Queen Taramis, was her palace pets. They were peacocks. Lots and lots of peacocks just grazing about inside, which is quite lovely I must say. But if I didn’t know any better I’d say she was a follower of Hera, the Greek Goddess of Marriage. For peacocks symbolize Hera, since she was responsible for taking the 100 eyes of the monster Argus Panoptes (meaning “the all-seeing one”) and placing them among the peacock’s feathers. Of course, peacocks are also associated with other gods and goddesses, and not to mention they encompass good luck, guidance, protection, and more.
Shapeshifting is something that is common among very powerful wizards, and this film shows that luckily. Thoth-Amon, an evil wizard played by Pat Roach, transforms into a translucent flying dragon of some sort at some point, and even uses illusion to deceive the eyes. Akiro doesn’t even have power over him. I wish more movies would have wizard battles such as these. Remember that wisdom will always prevail no matter how powerful one may be over another.
On a side note, I want to say that there’s a reference to the first film by involving a camel. It’s only truly hilarious if you’ve seen Conan the Barbarian, but it’s funny regardless. Spoiler alert!: As Conan apologizes to the camel for his misbehavior for the last time they met, he receives a “nasty reply” in return. Goes to show you that Conan don’t play around. No joke.
Out of ten stars, I would rate this film at 9 stars. The action was amazing. It was realistic – no special effects! I miss that in movies… I loved the diversity with the cast of characters, both in personality and in looks. Though I do miss Subotai and Valeria from the first film, the new cast makes up for it by being more comical this time around. And not to mention… there’s wizards!! Highly recommend others watch this film! Even kids would enjoy it since it’s rated PG. Just remember that there will be a lot of skin revealing outfits, but other than that it’s sure to delight all audiences!